Thursday, November 8, 2012

Hawks' spokesman suspended

Hawks' spokesman suspended
After making a controversial reference to prison rape on Twitter.
Hawks' spokesman McIntosh Polela has been suspended three weeks after making a controversial reference to prison rape on Twitter, police said on Thursday.

"He has been suspended. We won't discuss details. It is a purely internal matter," said Brigadier Phuti Setati.

He referred all Hawks media inquiries to the SA Police Service media centre.

Setati would not comment on a report in Beeld newspaper that Polela's suspension was the direct result of his tweet in October about kwaito star Molemo "Jub Jub" Maarohanye, after he was convicted of murder.

"JubJub spending 1st nite in prison. Bail has been denied after being found guilty of murder, attempted murder & racing while high," Polela tweeted shortly after judgment was handed down by the Protea Magistrate's Court.

"I trust that JubJub's supporters gave him a jar of Vaseline to take to prison," Polela posted.

Several users commented on this tweet. One asked: "Really? Rape jokes from the police spokesman?" and another: "Coming from a officer of the court that is low! Scrapping at the bottom of the barrel for comments now are we?".

Polela later apologised for the remark, also via Twitter: "My tweet about Jub Jub on Tuesday nite [sic] was in poor taste. I profoundly regret posting [it] and hereby retract it. Je suis desole [I'm sorry]."

Shortly after the initial tweets, fast food franchise Nando's ran an advert poking fun at him.

"Next time you're thinking about tweeting, do yourself (and your followers) a favour and come to Nando's instead. Unlike your jokes, our flame-grilled Peri-Peri chicken is always tasteful."

On Tuesday, a Twitter user asked Polela why he was not commenting on the latest Hawks' raid.

"I'm writing exams from the 19th. At home studying and trying not to care about what's happening in the universe," he replied.

Maarohanye and Themba Tshabalala were found guilty of four counts of murder, two of attempted murder, using drugs, racing on a public road, and driving under the influence of drugs.

They were drag-racing in Protea North on March 8, 2010 when they crashed into a group of school boys. Prince Mohube, Mlungisi Cwayi, Andile Mthombeni and Phomello Masemola were killed. Frank Mlambo and Fumani Mushwana were seriously injured.

On Wednesday, the High Court in Johannesburg rejected an appeal by Maarohanye against the revoking of his bail.

Sentencing is scheduled to take place on November 30.



Hawks look into fraud claims at Sharemax
October 10 2012 at 08:00am
By Roy Cokayne

The Hawks are investigating allegations that Sharemax Investments committed fraud and probing whether it operated a pyramid or Ponzi scheme.

About 40 000 people invested a total of some R4.5 billion in the various schemes promoted and marketed by Sharemax, which if proven to be illegal and a pyramid scheme, will make it the largest case of fraud in South Africa’s history.

A pyramid or Ponzi scheme is typically where investments by new investors are used to pay the interest and returns of older investors.

Hawks spokesman McIntosh Polela confirmed that the investigations by the elite crime-fighting unit were under way.

Attempts to obtain comment from Dominique Haese, who was financial director of Sharemax Investments and is now managing and financial director of Frontier Asset Management, which manages Sharemax’s property portfolio, were unsuccessful.

Polela said Hawks detectives were still gathering information and stressed the investigation was in its early stages.

Noluntu Bam, the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services (Fais) Ombud, in a determination released yesterday, alluded to The Villa, the partially completed R3.5bn retail development near Pretoria that was promoted and marketed to investors by Sharemax, being a pyramid or Ponzi scheme.

“Given that The Villa had no income whatsoever other than investors’ money, the inescapable conclusion is that no matter how it was packaged, rental income was ultimately paid out of investors’ capital.”

Bam added The Villa was funded through a single unlisted company that was “not subject to the stringent regulatory requirements of the JSE”, did not have any track record, was “devoid of any meaningful assets”, and the method of appointment of directors itself should have raised questions about corporate governance and investor protection.

She ordered financial advisor Marthinus David Ras and/or Perfecsure Lewens Makelaars in Pretoria to repay Western Cape pensioner Iona Cowan the R800 000 she had invested in The Villa.

The registrar of banks investigated Sharemax’s funding model and decided in 2010 that it contravened the Banks Act. It only reported this contravention to the Hawks in March.

The comments by the Fais Ombud and confirmation by the Hawks that it was investigating criminal acts allegedly perpetrated by Sharemax, has cast a huge shadow over the legality of the scheme of arrangement and offer of compromise to shareholders and investors in Sharemax, that was sanctioned by the North Gauteng High Court in January.

The registrar of banks tacitly consented to the scheme of arrangement because Sharemax was under its statutory management when the scheme of arrangement was presented to court for sanctioning.

The registrar of banks appointed statutory managers to manage the repayment of funds illegally obtained from the investors in Sharemax’s various schemes in September 2010 when Sharemax defaulted on payments to investors at the end of August 2010.

Sharemax defaulted when the registrar’s decision that its funding model contravened the Banks Act became public knowledge, resulting in new investments into its schemes drying up. page 16

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